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Virac, Catanduanes – The proposal to establish a “Specialty Center” in the province of Catanduanes has been approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) of Catanduanes in anticipation of the passage of the law approved by both houses of Congress.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Sonny Angara are the main sponsors of this proposal in the Senate, with the aim of establishing specialty centers in provinces, similar to the Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney Institute, and Philippine Children’s Hospital. They recognize the need for specialist doctors to cater to patients in distant and remote areas.

This will greatly contribute to the increase of healthcare workers in rural and provincial areas. According to Senator Sonny, instead of nurses, doctors, and specialists congregating in Metro Manila, they can now stay in their respective provinces to provide healthcare services.

As the sponsor of the Universal Healthcare Act, Senator Sonny wants to ensure that the solutions provided by specialist doctors are available to all Filipinos, regardless of their location in the country. The proposal was initiated by Provincial Board Member (PBM) Jose Romeo ‘Sonny’ R. Francisco and was immediately supported by the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan during the 23rd Regular Session on June 5, 2023.

PBM Francisco’s proposal is supported by three other resolutions passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. These resolutions request Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Committee on Health & Demography Chairperson Senator Christopher Lawrence Go to include the said program in Catanduanes province. PBM Francisco emphasized the importance of establishing a Specialty Center in Catanduanes due to its geographical location and limited access to quality healthcare services.

Considering the population of approximately 271,879 based on the 2020 census, the challenges outlined in Section 5(b) of the Regional Specialty Act make the establishment of a Specialty Center on the island necessary and beneficial. “The immediate medical needs of Catanduanons, particularly emergency cases or treatment related to heart, lung, and kidney diseases, can be addressed through this proposal. It can reduce the burden on patients in terms of transportation expenses from the island to mainland Bicol,” added PBM Sonny Francisco.

Senate Bill 2212 was already approved in the Senate in May and is considered a priority measure under the Marcos administration. This proposed law aims to establish regional branches of renowned medical institutions, including the Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and Philippine Cancer Center.

According to Senate Pres. Zubiri, this proposed law will invigorate the public health system and provide a significant source of medical resources to government hospitals. It is a step towards the decentralization of specialty centers nationwide to improve medical services.

The Department of Health (DOH) has the responsibility to establish at least one specialty center in each region, focusing on prevalent diseases and special healthcare needs of the area. It is also the DOH’s responsibility to ensure that these specialty centers have well-trained medical specialists and modern equipment. (Kap JP/Translated byBPNEWSTEAM)

This post is also available in: Filipino (Philippines)